Water heater corrosion can be a nasty problem. And if you found some rust on your water heater, you’re probably wondering if that means you’ll need to replace it soon.
Many things can cause corrosion on a water heater, which doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. However, a small amount of rust or corrosion can lead to big problems and costly repairs. So it’s essential to learn about water heater corrosion to know when to get it looked at by a professional plumber.
We will share everything you need to know about water heater corrosion: what causes it, how serious it is, how to fix it, how to prevent it, and how to go about replacing or installing a new water heater if necessary.
What Causes Corrosion on a Water Heater
Corrosion occurs naturally when metals are exposed to the elements. It’s a chemical reaction where the metal breaks down due to environmental factors. Most commonly, corrosion appears as rust when metal is exposed to water.
Though water heaters are designed to resist corrosion, the heating element on a water heater is known to corrode, and this is because the element is in direct contact with the water it heats.
A water heater is expected to last 8-10 years. Near the end of its life, corrosion can become a serious problem that may lead you to replace your water heater.
Is Corrosion on a Water Heater Bad?
In short, yes. Corrosion on a water heater is bad, and it’s usually serious and requires water heater maintenance or repairs.
However, it only sometimes requires a partial replacement, and occasionally individual parts can be replaced independently.
Other times, corrosion on your water heater can be so severe that you need to replace the entire system. It all depends on the severity of the corrosion and the age of your water heater.
How to Tell if Your Water Heater Has a Corrosion Problem
Luckily, water heater corrosion is pretty detectable – usually in two ways.
The most common way to notice that your water heater has a corrosion problem is by noticing discoloration in your hot water. If the water in your shower, bathtub, or sink starts coming out with a brown, orange, or red hue, it’s probably time to check your water heater for corrosion.
This happens because the rust in your water heater is polluting the water dispersed through your plumbing.
Water Heater Leaks
Another common way to identify water heater corrosion is through leaks. If your water heater is leaking, that’s a sign of corrosion. When metal corrodes, it breaks down and may cause holes or leaks.
Can you Fix a Corroded Water Heater?
Luckily, depending on the issue, a corroded water heater can be fixed.
A smaller piece, like the water heater corrosion rod, can be replaced quickly and inexpensively. So can the temperature-pressure release valve. However, if the glass lining on your water heater has worn down and started to crack, this is unfixable and will require replacement.
Having a plumber examine your water heater can help you identify the issue, whether it’s a small or big fix.
How to Remove Corrosion from Water Heater Pipes
If the corrosion on your water heater pipes isn’t a significant issue, you can remove it or clean it yourself.
Corroded water heater pipes are common – after all, water runs through them all day, every day. If you notice rust or flaky corrosion on the outside of pipes, scrubbing it away with a brush and white vinegar should do the trick.
But if you notice galvanic corrosion, this is a more serious issue. This is when two metals meet together and start corroding. We recommend calling a professional plumber to fix this. It involves turning off your water and electricity, draining all hot water, taking apart and rebuilding your water heater, and running tests to ensure everything is working properly without leaks.
How to Stop a Water Heater from Getting Rusty
Water heater corrosion occurs naturally, so it can be hard to avoid. Thankfully, with easy, routine maintenance, you can increase your chances of prevention.
Drain Your Water Heater Tank
Did you know you’re supposed to drain your water heater tank once per year to reduce a build-up of detrimental minerals? It’s true. Thankfully, draining your tank is simple and can have big benefits, like helping your water heater last extra years.
Water Heater Assessments
You can also call a professional, like the plumbers at Nick’s Plumbing, to come and check your water heater once a year. This is an excellent corrosion prevention method because if we notice any minor issues, we can prevent them from becoming significant issues.
Pay Attention to Your Water Heater
Another great way to stop a water heater from getting rusty is to keep your senses heightened for strange sights, noises, smells, or tastes. You should investigate further if you hear any knocking, banging, or whistling noises from your water heater, see any leaks or corrosion, weird water smells from your taps, or taste any minerals or metals. Ignoring a problem can only lead to worse problems.
These methods can protect your water heater from corrosion and prevent a rusty water heater from ruining your next shower.
When Does a Rusty Water Heater Need to be Replaced?
Since rust cannot be reversed, only removed, a rusty water heater is a sign that it might be time for a replacement.
Whenever you notice rust on a water heater, you should call professional plumbers like Nick’s Plumbing. Our technicians will be able to advise you on whether your water heater is fixable or when to replace your water heater.
Small rust spots do not mean it’s time for a new water heater. However, a replacement may be the best decision depending on where the rust is, how big the spot is, and how old your water heater is.
Need to Install a New Water Heater?
If your water heater is rusting and it’s time for a new one, call Nick’s Plumbing. We can visit your home to determine all aspects of your new water heater installation. If you need help choosing an electric water heater, gas water heater, or tankless water heater, learning about the costs associated with a new installation, or how to do it without downtime, call us.
Our technicians can guide your decision to choose a new water heater and help you install it in no time.
Having a Water Heater Corrosion Problem?
If you have a water heater corrosion problem, it’s best not to wait. Leaks can pop up fast, and rust can spread.
Call Nick’s Plumbing for water heater maintenance or water heater repair, or water heater replacement. Our licensed, experienced, and certified professionals will help remove the stress from water heater problems. We operate over twenty fully-stocked plumbing trucks, all equipped with the tools and parts necessary to maintain or repair any system. And with our VIP Plumbing Service Plan, you can have peace of mind that we are always here to help.
We’ve been in business since 1979, helping the people of Houston with all plumbing issues under the sun – and we’re known for our five-star service.
If you need water heater services in Houston, get started. Call Nick’s today; we’re on the way.